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Oregano for that punch

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An essential pinch Oregano is used in Italian cuisine
An essential pinch Oregano is used in Italian cuisine

OREGANO owes its claim to fame to the pizza

Centuries ago, the quest for spices unleashed a volley of adventures, and pepper and cardamom travelled unfriendly seas to alien shores. Today, spices and recipes traverse continents in a jiffy.

A generation that criss-crosses the world knows intimately the spices that define foreign cuisines. The Internet brings to the click of your finger, recipes with spices that were almost never entered your grandmother’s kitchen.

There are spices you grow up with and there are spices you get acquainted with. Oregano is a spice that you get to know of. Quintessentially a Mediterranean spice, oregano is sprinkled fairly in Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisines.

Oregano leaves bear a striking resemblance to mint and basil leaves, and it’s not surprising since they all belong to the same family. The leaves of this herb are a sprightly green and the plant bears tiny purple flowers. Quite like coriander leaves, fresh oregano leaves have a life of two to three days.

If other spices lose fervour in their dried or powdered incarnation, dried oregano is considered more vigorous than the fresh variety. Aromatic and pungent, it is a spice used with discretion. In India, our dalliance with oregano was brought on by the pizza wave. Tomatoes, capsicum and olives bathing in a mesh of mozzarella cheese are pepped up with a splash of oregano in pizzas. Even today, pizza keeps up its reputation as the dish oregano is most identified with.

The spice is dusted into a variety of meat recipes. Oregano leaves its mark on a variety of Continental dishes. Steaks, chicken, soups, salsa, tomato sauce, sandwiches — all enjoy its delicious smell and piquant taste. Oregano blends well with vegetables too. The herb is also believed to possess a clutch of medicinal properties.

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